West Coast Swing
West Coast Swing is a smooth, sensual dance which can be danced to almost any music. The dance can have a very different look and feel depending on the type of music and the style of the dancers. It is not uncommon that elements from other dance styles such as Hip Hop, Zouk or Bachata are included in the dance to create a unique style.
West Coast Swing (WCS) is a partner dance with roots in Lindy Hop. It is characterized by a distinctive elastic look that results from its basic extension-compression technique of partner connection and is danced primarily in a slotted area on the dance floor. The dance allows for both partners to improvise steps while dancing together, putting West Coast Swing in a short list of dances that put a premium on improvisation.
From West Coast Swing Online
What is West Coast Swing? West Coast Swing is a popular form of swing dancing that has spread across the world. Part of the appeal of WCS is that it is an adaptable dance; it can be danced to a variety of musical styles and genres! In addition, the dance itself creates room for improvisation and interaction between the partners. Combine these elements with the ethos of street dance—most west coast dancers resist the urge to formalize the dance into a ballroom-like curriculum—and it’s easy to see why west coast can be so hard to define but so easy to love!
Characteristics of West Coast Swing
WCS is a lead-follow partner dance that emphasizes the conversation between the partners. The leader is responsible for selecting the patterns of the dance but is encouraged to create opportunities for the follower to shine within the dance. The follower is responsible for carrying out the intention of the leader but is encouraged to play and interpret within the leader’s overall structure. WCS is generally danced in a linear slot, with the follower moving to either end of the slot and the leader remaining in the center. Although the slot can rotate or travel on occasion, WCS is not a circular or progressive dance. Every pattern in WCS ends in an anchor; the leader and follower are stretched away from each other. This stretch, or elasticity, creates a smooth and relaxed look for the dance. In contrast to other forms of swing, west coast settles into the end of each pattern through the anchor.
Competing in West Coast Swing is part of the culture and very common. Most competitions are in the form of Jack and Jill where you do not know your partner in advance, but there are also other other forms of competion. There are are 6 different levels you can compete in (Newcomer, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Allstar, Champion). You advance thru the levels by gaining WSDC points in Jack and Jill competitions. Competition rules, sponsored events as well as current points can be found on World Swing Dance Council.